Laughter brings people together and strengthens relationships, and Toluca Lake icon Fritz Coleman did exactly that with an epic comedy performance at the El Portal Theatre on March 20.
The laugh-out-loud Fritz Coleman Comedy Benefit raised approximately $13,000 for the Toluca Lake Chamber of Commerce. With many stores, restaurants and other enterprises still feeling the economic impact of COVID-19, Chamber President Shannon Hartman says the event will help local businesses get through these challenging times.
“Our goal more than ever is to promote our business community, not only so it can survive these strange economic times, but so we can all thrive,” she says. “We will use the funds raised to do just that through our successful monthly mixers, social media channels and promotion of upcoming community events.”
As the honorary mayor of Toluca Lake, Coleman has donated countless time and resources to the community, and he embraced another opportunity to give back.
“Our previous Fritz Coleman Comedy Benefit in 2019 was such a success that Fritz had offered to donate his talents again, so we jumped on it!” Hartman says. “This event is a great way for our Chamber to raise much-needed funds and gather our community together in one place.”
Hartman adds that putting on the benefit show, which also featured a special guest performance from comedian and local resident Wendy Liebman, required a big behind-the-scenes effort to ensure the event was a success.
“My favorite moment was when my co-chair Rhoda Minger and I were in my office the night before, scrambling to get all of our auction items together and working with Rhoda’s son to get the playbill written, produced and folded,” Hartman says. “Both of our husbands also pitched in to do what they could to get everything in order. What really stands out to me is the hard work we take on as a Chamber board and the sacrifice and commitment of our own family members. They know the importance firsthand of what we do for our community and gladly support our efforts.”
Also lending a helping hand was Chamber Vice President Erick Garcia, who showed up with his girlfriend to help set up the reception. Garcia says that residents can expect more fun events this summer and encourages local merchants to join the Chamber “to learn more about how we can support one another and expand our community.”
Both Garcia and Hartman also expressed their gratitude for the overwhelming support from the Toluca Lake community.
“We appreciate the love that our community members have for Toluca Lake,” Hartman says. “It goes much deeper than just running a business or residing in our Village. Our stakeholders are finding that we all benefit from a thriving community. We are so grateful for everyone who comes out to our events, which are all extremely enjoyable. Even our monthly cleanups are a ton of fun. We like to say that the Toluca Lake Chamber is the new community social club!”